For people’s health, because the planet needs it and because action needs to be taken on the climate emergency, the permanent low emissions zone (LEZ) comes into force on 1 January 2020. The measure restricts the circulation of vehicles which pollute the most, cutting NO2 emissions by 15% and improving air quality. Pollution caused 351 deaths in the city in 2018.
What is the permanent low emissions zone?
The protected area covers over 95 square kilometres and prohibits the circulation of pollutant vehicles on working days from 7 am to 8 pm.
It includes the entire city of Barcelona and all or part of the municipalities of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Cornellà de Llobregat, Esplugues de Llobregat and Sant Adrià de Besòs.
The city’s ring roads, the neighbourhoods of Vallvidrera, Tibidabo and Les Planes are outside the LEZ, as is the Zona Franca.
When does it come into force?
As from 1 January 2020.
Which vehicles do the restrictions affect?
All vehicles without the DGT environmental rating badge, which certifies the vehicle is suitable to circulate.
- Cars: pre-Euro 3 petrol-driven cars registered before January 2000 and pre-Euro 4 diesel cars registered before January 2006.
- Vans: pre-Euro 1 vans registered before 1 October 1994. Owners have a one-year moratorium to adapt to the new regulation.
- Motorbikes, mopeds and quad vehicles: pre-Euro 2 vehicles registered before 2003.
The following will also be gradually affected (as from 2021): vans (N1), lorries (N2, N3) and buses (M2, M3) without an environmental rating badge:
- Pre-Euro 3 petrol vans (N1 category) (usually registered before 2000) and pre-Euro 4 diesel vans (usually registered before 2005 or 2006).
- Pre-Euro 4 Lorries (N2 and N3) and buses (M2 and M3) (usually registered before 2006 or 2007).
What moratoriums and exceptions apply?
- Moratorium of one year: vans, lorries, coaches and buses used by professionals.
- Moratorium of one year for people with personal incomes below the Public Income Indicator with Multiple Effects (IPREM) plus 10%, some 8000 euros gross per annum, who demonstrate they use their vehicle as an essential tool for carrying out their professional activities: this group may already be registered and can upload scanned copies of the requisite documents to the zbe.barcelona website.
- Exemptions, until the vehicle is replaced. Vehicles must be registered to be able to travel, if they belong to:
- People with reduced mobility
- Emergency services
- Essential (medical or funeral) services
- Special services: tows, mobile radio and television units, laboratory vehicles, garage vehicles, vehicles for fairs, vehicles arranged for selling or exhibiting items, vehicles with refrigeration chambers and cement mixers
- Special permission:
- 24-hour authorisation can be requested for vehicles without the DGT environmental rating badge, up to a maximum of ten days a year. Such requests will have to be made in advance through the zbe.barcelona website.
- For people undergoing medical treatment who need to travel in their vehicle to reach a medical centre. They will have to register their vehicles in advance and upload scanned copies of the requisite documents to the zbe.barcelona website. Vehicles without the DGT environmental rating badge travelling for a medical emergency will also be able to request authorisation within a period of three days as from the occurrence of the traffic violation.
How can I request authorisation to travel through the permanent low-emissions zone (ZBE)?
Permits, authorisations and moratoriums can now be requiest online from the zbe.barcelona website. They will also be able to be requested at the support point at the Citizen Help and Information Office on Plaça de Sant Miquel, from 7 January to 31 January, from Mondays to Fridays, 4 pm – 8 pm, and on Saturdays, from 8.30 am to 8 pm.
How will the restrictions on pollutant vehicles be enforced?
The city police will check vehicle number plates with video surveillance cameras at access and exit points to the city and within the LEZ itself.
The Guàrdia Urbana [city police] will check vehicle number plates using video-surveillance cameras installed at the city’s entrance and exit roads and inside the urban centre. The cameras will record the licence numbers of vehicles that fail to comply with the regulation although fines will not be issued; instead, a single warning will be sent to repeat traffic-law violators. Fines will be minor, serious or very serious and start from 100 euros, coming into force as from 1 April 2020.
Is it obligatory to display the environmental badge?
It is not obligatory to display the sticker, but it does make the monitoring task easier for the city police.
How do I request the environmental rating badge?
Use the zbe.barcelona website to check which environmental badge corresponds to your vehicle. You can request the badge at the post office (Correus) or at a registered administration agency.
What will the permanent low emissions zone mean in terms of health?
The permanent low emissions zone will limit circulation to 50,000 vehicles and cut NO2 emissions by 15%.
Which other cities in the world have got low emissions zones?
Brussels, London, Paris, Milan and Rotterdam are among more than 200 European cities with low emissions zones.
Where can I get more information?